Si nos ponemos tristes, podríamos estar tristes para siempre. Translated from Spanish, this means, “If we allow ourselves to be sad, we could be sad forever.”
This is what my mom told me during the car ride to the airport as I headed back to Boston College after Winter Break. She knew how clearly I appreciated the home I once so tirelessly tried to get away from. Our rocky relationship has mended through therapy and distance, and a stressful semester left me yearning for an embrace from my mom—and an embrace from my home.
Home for me is not the apartment I’ve lived in for 17 years. It’s the people who know me beyond the quirkiness and optimism. I’ve found it hard to form that home here at BC, so for now I have a Home (Texas) and a Here (BC).
I realize it’s barely been a few weeks, but give me a break. I think this is the hardest time for homesickness. I call back home pretty frequently because I want to stay updated with my family, hear their voices, and laugh. But, there always seems to be a little silence on these calls—both my family and I can feel the distance college has put between us. Part of me wishes we could just chat the whole day and pretend it’s the same, but I know that would be as depressing as it sounds.
So, to keep from being consumed by homesickness, I have set some boundaries. I restricted myself to calling back home once a day, which should at most be an hour. I believe that’s the sweet spot to stay connected: end the call wanting a bit more, but never leave the call with a weight on my chest and a void to fill.
I might feel homesick, but two things can be true at once: I miss home, AND I don’t hate it here. Although this sounds like a low standard to have for my college experience, it’s the standard I find to be the most honest. Last semester, I experienced built-up anxiety rooted in my academics and social life. Thus, the thought of returning to the Heights wasn’t exactly filling me with joy. Like many others, I didn’t want to repeat this cycle of anxiousness when I returned to school.
The first step to breaking out of this cycle is accepting these negative emotions instead of trying to push, shove, and ignore them. Give yourself a rest from the fake smile that your heart doesn’t feel, displaying your authentic self so people can support you.
But once you’ve decided to let your emotions in, there’s an annoying blurred line to tread —feeling your emotions but not leaning into them. “Feeling” one’s emotions is accepting waves of frustration, anger, and sadness that naturally come with one’s transition in life. “Leaning” into one’s emotions might involve locking yourself in your dorm, avoiding all contact, giving yourself excessive time to think about what’s missing, and simply rotting. I don’t have guidance for maintaining that line because everyone’s needs are different. I can, however, explain my personal journey learning to accept my emotions while simultaneously making an effort to enjoy being at college.
Aside from my longing for home, I came to BC with hopes to go into the city more, volunteer, and reach out to friends, but I knew these hopes will forever be unreachable unless I acted. I decided to set realistic habits of going into the city once a month, seeking volunteer opportunities offered on campus, and eating lunch with friends to ensure we don’t get wrapped up in our busy schedules. My habits sound simple, but they forced me to not give in to overwhelming emotions by keeping me busy and my mind occupied.
Though I’m not perfectly happy here, I’d like to make it bearable. I can miss home but also smile warmly at the possibility of feeling embraced at the Heights.